From Global Network to Local Franchise

Christina Hellmich


An essential guide to one of the most notorious but little-understood organizations of our time.
Since the attacks of September 11th 2001, al-Qaeda has come to embody the new enigmatic face of terrorism, dominating discussions of national and international security. Yet in spite of the attention it receives, conflicting assumptions about the group abound. Is al-Qaeda a rigidly structured organization, a global network of semi-independent cells, a franchise, or simply an idea whose time has come? What is meant by talk of the ‘global Salafi jihad’ that is confronting the West? What are the implications of bin Ladin's death?

Christina Hellmich offers a critical examination of the widely-held notions regarding the origins and manifestations of al-Qaeda and the sources on which they rely, mapping the organisation’s alleged transition from what began as a regional struggle against the Soviets in Afghanistan to the increasingly leaderless jihad of the post-9/11 world. Rather than just providing yet another biography of al-Qaeda, Hellmich forensically examines discrepancies between the most common explanations and to the limits of what can realistically be known.

Drawing on a wide variety of sources, al-Qaeda: From Global Network to Local Franchise offers a penetrating insight into an organization which, for all its notoriety, is one of the least-understood of our time.

Author Bio

Christina Hellmich is Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Reading.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction: September 11th and the Anxious Search for Answers 
  • 2. Who is Al-Qaeda?: From Afghanistan to 9/11 
  • 3. Hypocrites, Wahhabis and Salafi-Jihadis: Post 9/11 Explanations of Al-Qaeda's Ideology 
  • 4. Reclaiming the Umma: The Ideology of Al-Qaeda in the Context of the Pan-Islamic Tradition 
  • 5. Al-Qaeda Post-9/11: Destroyed, Weakened or Re-emergent? 
  • 6. The Future of Al-Qaeda 
  • Bibliography


'A comprehensive book filled with fresh material.'
Time Out

'A sensible, sharp, reasoned, comprehensive overview of analysis of modern Islamic militancy and discussion of the nature of the phenomenon of al-Qaeda.'
Jason Burke, author of al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam

'Christina Hellmich delivers an intelligent and balanced assessment of perhaps the most misunderstood group in the world.'
Richard Jackson, Aberystwyth University, UK

'Undermines many of the widely held assumptions about al-Qa'ida.'
Nelly Lahoud, Associate Professor, Combating Terrorism Center, United States Military Academy, West Point


Publication Date: 11 August 2011
224 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848139084
Hardback: 9781848139091
eBook ePub: 9781848139114
eBook PDF: 9781848139107
eBook Kindle: 9781780325095

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